AmeriCorps Interns Showcase Cultural Technology Work

Cultural Technology Americorps students.

Margaret McKinney/Highlands University
New Mexico Highlands University media arts graduate and AmeriCorps intern Melissa Mí¡rquez shows a billboard she designed for the National Hispanic Cultural Center to media arts professors Megan Jacobs, left, and Miriam Langer, right, at the Sept. 23 tech showcase.

Las Vegas, NM — New Mexico Highlands University media arts students presented a tech showcase Sept. 23 featuring the cutting-edge multimedia technology projects they created for museums and cultural institutions across New Mexico.

The students are participating in the university’s one-of-a kind AmeriCorps Cultural Technology Program, or ACT, now in its third year. ACT is part of an ongoing partnership between the Highlands University Media Arts Department and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

“When you see the students’ work all together in one room, you get a sense of the diversity of projects they are creating and the positive impact they are having on the state’s cultural institutions,” said Mimi Roberts, DCA media projects director. “The students’ work looks like they’ve been working pr0fessionally for two to three years — a testament to the academic quality of the media arts professors at Highlands and the mentoring the students receive at the institutions.”

To date, 42 Highlands University media arts students have participated in the AmeriCorps Cultural Technology Program. It is funded through federal grants administered by the New Mexico Commission on Community Volunteerism.

The media arts students and recent program graduates created state-of-the-art work for sites like the National Hispanic Cultural Center, Santa Fe Institute, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Las Vegas Citizens’ Committee for Historic Preservation, Bradbury Science Museum, and SITE Santa Fe. 

“Our AmeriCorps students produced industry standard websites, HD digital films and videos, museum exhibits, mobile apps, graphic design, multimedia interactive technology, digital photography, and more,” said Lauren Addario, a media arts instructor who coordinates the AmeriCorps Cultural Technology Program. “Our students come to the table with a unique skill set they gain from our rigorous pre-professional, four-year degree program.”

Media arts graduate Melissa Mí¡rquez of Las Vegas is an AmeriCorps intern at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Mí¡rquez is a graphic designer for print projects and electronic applications like websites.

“It’s been very valuable getting a chance to work in my field of choice at the National Hispanic Cultural Center to practice and refine what I’ve learned in school before I enter the workforce,” Mí¡rquez said. “It’s rewarding to produce work that helps attract people to the center to learn more about our New Mexico Hispanic culture and other Spanish-based cultures from around the world.”

Mí¡rquez said her mentors at the National Hispanic Cultural Center are supportive, encouraging and positive. Her supervisor is Dr. Shelle Sánchez, the center’s education director.

“Melissa is skilled in many areas of design and has great ideas that she implements quickly within our limited budget,” Sánchez said. “She’s done outstanding print design work for ads, billboards, flyers, calendars and more.

“Working with our education team, Melissa created a very elegant, user-friendly design for a new Dí­a de los Muertoswebsite for educators that will go live soon. Melissa was in charge of graphics and label design for several education and art museum exhibits and did a professional job,” Sánchez said.

Sánchez added that she’s glad she’ll have Mí¡rquez on staff as an AmeriCorps intern for another year, and wishes she had the budget to keep Mí¡rquez forever.  

“The mentors at the cultural institutions are extraordinarily dedicated and we’re so grateful for the opportunities they give our students to contribute to New Mexico’s cultural heritage,” Addario said.

The media arts students are considered AmeriCorps volunteers and receive living allowances, education awards, and training for their service.